How Grief Can be Transforming

As we choose to draw close to ‘the God of all comfort’, we open ourselves up to discovering that the God of all comfort is drawing near too.

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Are you grieving right now? Or do you know someone who is? If so, the title of this blog might feel a bit jarring; how can grief become a positive or even transformational thing?

To be honest, when I was in the deepest throes of grieving pregnancy losses, I wanted to throw my laptop across the room along with an article that suggested something like this!

I was angry. Angry at myself for not being able to cope better, angry at my husband just for being in my space, and angry at all my friends who seemed to breeze through their pregnancies easily… but mostly, I was angry at God.

How could He let something like this happened to us, not just once… but again and again? And how could a God who acted like that, ever be described as good? I wasn’t exactly blaming God for the miscarriage. I knew that He didn’t cause it, and I didn’t even believe that it was part of his will or plan it for me, but He didn’t exactly step in and stop it all either.

I haven’t written this essay as a quick fix or how-to guide to ‘making sense of your grief’. The fact is that loss is heart-breaking and there’s simply no short cut, or fast pass through the pain – you simply have to go journey it – and processing it takes time.

Honestly, it took months and months of wrestling with my pain to come to a place of peace and acceptance in my grief journey.

But having been through this process of grieving three times after pregnancy losses now, I know that it is possible to grieve with hope in your heart, to experience His comfort in the midst of the darkest moments, and to encounter his healing embrace through your heartbreak and loss.

It really is possible to come out of the other side transformed.

Blessed are those who mourn

Psalm 34: 18 says that “The LORD is close to the broken-hearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.” And in Matthew 5: 4, Jesus himself said, “Blessed are those who mourn or grieve, for they will be comforted.” But the truth is that I never really understood these verses at all until miscarriage entered into my story. I mean, what could possibly be ‘blessed’ about going through a heartbreaking loss?

Perhaps there’s some small comfort to be found by the kindness of a stranger in a moment of tragedy, or some fresh hope to be found in the unconditional and unwavering love and support of your closest family and friends.

But is there ever really enough kindness or goodness in the aftermath of the tragedy of loss, that it can actually turn someone’s suffering into a blessing.

For what it’s worth, I don’t think so…

Can grief really be a blessing?

After walking through this experience of grieving after a miscarriage, not just once but twice in a six month period, and then again another year later, this question is something that I’ve been forced to wrestle with a lot.

And I think that perhaps the ‘blessing’ comes not from the grieving process itself, but rather from the opportunity that this kind of suffering can invite into our lives.

Because what I have slowly, gradually been discovering is that as we actually invite God to draw near to us in our brokenness and allow Him to meet us right in the center of our sadness and pain, something kind of miraculous and unexplainable happens…

As we choose to draw close to ‘the God of all comfort’, we open ourselves up to discovering that the God of all comfort is drawing near too.

So maybe the ‘blessing’ is not actually in the mourning at all but in the invitation to experience God’s presence in a much deeper, fuller, and richer way – in a way that only those who have walked along this path of grief with Him can ever really know.

A blessing multiplied

What’s more, it’s a blessing that can be multiplied in time as well. Because often there’s new compassion and empathy for others who walk that path of personal pain, that only enters into your life after walking it yourself first.

For example, I know that there’s absolutely no way that I would ever have considered writing such a personal blog about my struggles with miscarriage, fertility, and faith, in order to help others through their pain, if I hadn’t lived through all of this heartbreak myself first.

The greatest gift of all

Reflecting back on the last few years, it seems that the blessing I’ve discovered, right in the midst of the most unimaginable heartbreak, disappointment, and pain, has been an invitation to draw closer to God and to experience more of his comfort and peace.

This wasn’t a gift that I wanted. I wanted to never need it in the first place. And then I wanted another healthy, full-term pregnancy. Because that’s what seemed most like healing to me; to be able to replace that which was lost. But instead, He gave me His presence.

I always thought that God’s gifts looked like answered prayers. And sometimes they do, but often they don’t. And then what?

For a long time, I felt so very angry that this was part of my life story, and so often our anger makes us want to pull away from God rather than draw near.

But something that I’ve come to realize over time is that the gifts we seek are not the blessing at all; the greatest gift is the Giver himself.

Transformation is a choice

I want to qualify all this by adding that it isn’t an automatic given that pain will become a positive or transformational force in our lives.

Encountering seasons of pain and loss is sadly a certainty that will come to all of us at various times because death is a part of our human story. But the transformational part is a choice because it depends on what we choose to do with our pain.

Will we allow God to enter into our pain, will give Him with all the broken pieces of our hearts, and trust Him to heal, redeem, and make something altogether new with those parts, just as He promises to?

Will we trust in His promise that He works all things out for our good? In our pain, our hurt, and our anger, will we choose to draw closer or pull away?

A savior who draws nears

It probably goes without saying, that I would never have chosen miscarriage to be a part of my story. But I also know that if I had never walked through this sadness, disappointment, and loss, there would be parts of God’s character that I would never have experienced either.

He is not a God who merely sympathizes with our pain – He is a God who relates, who understands, and who choose to draw near to us in it. And in times of grief don’t we need to know the One who has walked the path of pain before us?

The truth is that we follow a savior who knows the path of suffering far better than we do, and He is simply holding out His hand asking each of us to follow Him through it.

 

 

 

 

This is an updated edition of a post originally published on Anna Kettle

Featured Image by Thought Catalog on Unsplash

 

 

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